The Minnesota Wild has just wrapped up its morning skate in Vancouver, and the news is sounding good. Head Coach Todd Richards is saying that Cal Clutterbuck and Clayton Stoner are both in, and that Koivu is a gametime decision.
When Koivu was asked if he’ll take pregame warmups, he said, “we’ll see.” One would think that if he wasn’t going to, he would have just said “no.” And one would also think that if he’s taking warmups, he’s playing.
What a huge boost this would be to a team in need of a win against the best team in the Western Conference tonight. Of course, here in Minnesota, we always brush off that label when it comes to the Canucks. It doesn’t matter where they are in the standings, the Wild always seems to have its best ready. To have their best, it helps to have their best players and Koivu and Clutterbuck fit into that category.
Expect Niklas Backstrom to get the start in this most gargantuan of games.
I’m aware of some consternation as the result of two shutout defeats from last week, but I did some research and data analysis. By my calculations, a 4-3 loss counts for the same amount of points as a 4-0 loss, thus rendering the “shutout” tag irrelevant. Also, the Wild remains four points back of eighth place Calgary, with two games in hand, so the playoffs are still there for the taking with 13 games to play.
And, if the Wild can bag a couple wins over a too cool for school Vancouver team, and a Sharks team that has lost three of four, things are going to get very interesting come the weekend. Following this road trip, the Wild will play five of their next six games against teams on the outside of the playoff picture. The only exception is Montreal.
My point is, things are far from over.
And finally, as a product of the great white North, I have to comment on perhaps the most tension filled hockey day that the Duluth area has ever seen. On Saturday, Hermantown (which is basically a Duluth suburb) fought should-be Double A school St. Thomas Academy to the very end in an overtime defeat in the Class A state finals. That night, my alma mater Duluth East, fought Eden Prairie, a school with a student population right around 1 million, for three overtimes before finally succumbing. All the while, the UMD Bulldogs were tangling with St. Cloud State in a three overtime thriller to get to the WCHA Final Five. FYI – the Bulldogs won.
For folks who saw any of those three games, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget any of them. To use a cliche, those games are why we love hockey. So thanks to all the players and coaches and fans who were involved for creating those memories.
Now then, don’t expect triple overtime tonight in Vancouver, because it’s impossible. But, expect a Wild win, and it will be so.